Cultural appropriation has been used for quite a long time in the commercialized world, entertainment industry in particular. Although cultural appropriation does contribute to the exchange and interaction of different cultures; however, the main motive behind this phenomenon is very self-serving; in other words, cultural appropriation is all about taking bits and pieces of others’ cultures, molding and fitting them into one’s liking and own cultural framework in the hopes of making one’s self-identity or brand more of a standout and more individually special.
Celebrities in the pop culture realm are no strangers to the phenomenon of cultural appropriation. Singer, Pharell Williams, was the latest offender for wearing a Native-American headdress, a sacred and prestigious symbol, which is usually reserved for revered elders, on the cover of Elle UK. Not too long ago, singers Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne both stirred up some controversies by stereotyping Japanese and Japanese culture in their performances.
It is one thing to be uneducated, ignorant and to think that it is cool to wear certain symbols of a different culture or to incarnate certain images of a different race. It is another thing to have understood all the cultural meanings, racial histories and still choose to deliberately play up what might be hurtful to others for the sole purpose of maximizing self-gain.
In a way, I am glad that all these people in the public sphere have committed mistakes as such, because their stupidity and insensitivity to others, who are not parts of their world, help create a needed conversation in today’s society, where one’s desire for maximum amount of fame and for indulgence of so called “artistic pursuit” trumps all the common senses and courtesies, such as modesty, respect, and sensitivity.